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‘Caged’ Azerbaijani Bloggers Defiant in Baku Courtroom

(BAKU, PRAGUE — December 22, 2009) Two Azerbaijani bloggers being held in a steel cage in a Baku courtroom today told an RFE/RL reporter that it is their “duty” to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. [see VIDEO]

“There is no bigger honor than fighting for your ideas and values,” said Emin Milli, who, along with Adnan Hajizada, is accused of hooliganism after a scuffle at a restaurant last summer. That incident is widely believed to have been orchestrated as a pretext for their arrest.

A judge today denied a request for the bloggers to be released on bail. RFE/RL asked what they expect from their upcoming appeal on January 8.

“We don’t expect anything at all,” said Hajizada. Milli agreed, adding, “We simply think that it is our duty to take the case to the European Court for Human Rights.”

There is no bigger honor than fighting for your ideas and values.
Both men are active in youth groups that have been highly critical of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. One group recently circulated this video in which an activist wears a donkey suit to mock a recent government scandal in which donkeys were purchased from Germany at an exorbitant price.

International human rights organizations have characterized the charges against the men as politically motivated and the European Parliament last week called for their immediate release in a resolution critical of media freedom in Azerbaijan.

Hajizada and Milli said they are both healthy and have no complaints about their treatment in prison.

About RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service
For more than 50 years, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service (Radio Azadliq) has operated within a challenging media environment as a dependable source of professional, independent, and up-to-the minute information and news. Broadcasting for ten hours each day, Radio Azadliq puts the values of democracy and independence firmly at the center of its mission and is one of the country’s most respected news sources.